September 2011 Newsletter – NOT A Sign of Weakness

Last week I “Tweeted” this post: “Sometimes there is a fine line between independence and isolation. Asking for help when you need it isn’t weakness; be there for each other.”

The above statement was a hard learned lesson for me this week. I’ve been cleaning out clutter in a bedroom I carelessly began using for storage. I carried a plastic carpet protector (used under desk chairs with rollers) down the stairway and tossed it into the garage just past the cement steps into the house. I decided to just leave it there until ruling out any further use for it. Later that day I pulled the car into the garage, rushed around to the passenger side, grabbing my purse and a bag. Hurrying for the house door, when my right sandal made contact with the plastic carpet protector it slipped causing both feet to fly out behind me—my left rib cage making forceful contact with the cement steps.

Jarring pain pulsed through my body, but a searing pain in my chest scared me. Pushing myself to turn over, I was now face up and braced with one elbow against the step. The garage door was still open and I considered screaming for help but couldn’t get the air out. Gathering my wits, I finally managed to get into the house. Unable to stand or sit without pain, I called an out-of-town friend who is a nurse. We came to the conclusion that I most likely fractured ribs but my lungs were probably not punctured. She told me to get someone to come help me out a little. That directive left me blank.

I live alone. I have neighbors I know well enough to borrow an egg or discuss gardening advice, but not well enough to ask for help. A neighbor who had watched my home when I traveled was not far away, and my weakened state now compromised my pride. I called him, apologized for bothering him after eight o’clock, quickly summarized what had happened, and then without further ability to remain stoic, broke down crying.

He showed up, helped me to lie down, got ice, and covered me with a blanket, as I was now beginning to tremor from the shock and trauma. I directed him to where I kept Rescue Remedy and other natural remedies for the initial trauma. He stayed until I was more relaxed and better able to breathe.

In my own book I talk about the need for community! I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve had to become independent in the past 10 years of being on my own – as have many of my friends who are widows, widowers or divorced. Being able to manage alone after nearly 30 years of marriage leaves me feeling like I’ve not only survived, but even earned some invisible badge of courage.

I’ve been a health advocate for friends and clients, helped friends move, drove them to the airport or doctor’s office, and I’m there to console during the downturns in life. I don’t mind giving. My lesson was in asking for help, and letting myself accept that help from another.

Chapter 8 begins with this quote:

“Some people think they are in community,
but they are only in proximity.
True community requires commitment and openness.
It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter
and know the other.”
– David Spangler

So, I humbly remind us all, “asking for help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness.” “Being there for each other” means a willingness to help others, as well as the ability to ask and receive help without pride or independence blocking that exchange of openness, service and caring between each other.

My larger community is a group of people with whom I am close, but who are spread out across the state, and the country.  We are in contact, we have shared history, shared emotions, and made memories together. These are people who have contributed to the patch quilt that is my life.

We are never done meeting people, needing people, needing to love and to be loved. People come into our lives for a reason, to teach or learn a lesson, to leave an imprint, and to allow us to impart upon them the essence of our being. To have the honor to bear witness to and for each other – I think this is why we are here, and why our community is so essential to our well-being.